Tuesday, April 05, 2005
two for tuesdays ; twosomes that just don't get along
Oh... and, by the way... the first two games are in and the defending champions are frustrated... oh well... they won when they had to! ;)
For 86 years, the New York Yankees always had the final bow against the Boston Red Sox.
On April 11 at Fenway Park, with their conquered foe looking on, the Red Sox will hand out World Series rings, celebrating the title that had eluded them since 1918.
"I'm sure I'm not going to help them hand them out," Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter said to laughter. "But they deserve it. I'm sure they've been looking forward to this for a long time. So let them do it."
As the rings are distributed, memories will return of baseball's greatest postseason comeback, of Dave Roberts' steal, David Ortiz's 12th-inning homer and 14th-inning single, of Curt Schilling's bloody sock, of Pokey Reese picking up Ruben Sierra's grounder for the final out.
Then, perhaps, thoughts will turn to the stunning Series sweep of St. Louis, when Keith Foulke flipped to Doug Mientkiewicz for the final out and all of New England had a ball.
It's the best drama in baseball, perhaps on all of TV. Why watch fictional thrillers when the real thing is played out 19 times during the regular season and seven more times in October?
Trot Nixon hopes it keeps going. He wants as many rings as the Olympic flag.
"I'm a greedy person. I want as many as I possibly can get," he said. "I want to be one of those guys also that has an opportunity to take a picture and have four or five rings on my finger with this team."
Aaron Boone was the star of the first act, his 11th-inning homer winning Game 7 for the Yankees in 2003. Schilling headlined the second act with his sock and his bravado.
All winter long, for every action by one team, there was a reaction from the other, be it in Beantown and the Big Apple or Fort Myers and Tampa during their spring stays in Florida. On Sunday night, it starts anew, with Randy Johnson throwing the first pitch of the major league season, and former Yankee David Wells pitching for Boston.
The Yankees traded for Johnson and signed Carl Pavano and Jaret Wright as free agents to fix their starting rotation. They brought in Tony Womack to play second, and brought back Tino Martinez to play first while trying to find out if Jason Giambi will recover from injuries and illness and rebound from an offseason filled with steroid controversy.
"I miss playing here. This is where I want to be," said Martinez, who helped the Yankees win four World Series titles from 1996-2000. "Playing in Yankee Stadium in front of those fans every day, a sold out stadium, playoff atmosphere every night, you don't get that anywhere else."
New York already has sold 3.1 million tickets at an average price of more than $40, a big reason it can afford baseball's first $200 million payroll. The Yankees are 200,000 tickets ahead of the pace they set last year, when they drew 3.78 million, and 620,000 ahead of 2003. As of Friday morning, New York had sold 29,976 season tickets or partial-plan equivalents.
Up in Boston, where the Red Sox have sold 2.5 million tickets for tiny Fenway Park (leaving only 300,000 available), Pedro Martinez departed for the New York Mets and Derek Lowe for the Los Angeles Dodgers. Wells and Matt Clement were brought in, and Edgar Renteria was lured from the Cardinals to replace Orlando Cabrera at shortstop.
"I don't want for one minute to get lost what we need to do in '05," Boston manager Terry Francona said, "because if we lose sight of that, what we did in '04 isn't going to mean much for very long."
Boston hopes Schilling's ankle, still recovering from surgery, will allow him to pitch by mid-April. The Red Sox count on big seasons again from Manny Ramirez, Ortiz, Johnny Damon, Jason Varitek and Kevin Millar, more consistency from starters Tim Wakefield and Bronson Arroyo, and more outstanding closing by Keith Foulke.
New York must show it can succeed with an elderly rotation that includes Johnson (41), Kevin Brown (40) and Mike Mussina (36). Mariano Rivera, who blew just four save chances during the regular season, must rebound after blowing three in the playoffs.
Alex Rodriguez must provide more run production in his second season in pinstripes, and Gary Sheffield must rebound from shoulder surgery. Giambi hit well this spring, but it's still not certain he'll be able to play first base regularly or be only a designated hitter, a move that would prevent Ruben Sierra from playing much.
Rodriguez insists this season will have a different ending.
"It's something I find I have to do and will do to earn my pinstripes," Rodriguez said. "I was brought in there to be the final piece, to be a world champion, and I came up short."
AP Sports Writer Howard Ulman in Boston contributed to this report
One that could easily be titled...
"you gotta have ball(s)!" *LOL*
Sox (ex)first baseman Mientkiewicz won't give up ball gloved for last Series out
07/01/2005 11:06:00 AM
BOSTON (AP) - Red Sox fans have seen the video over and over again. A ground ball to pitcher Keith Foulke. He tosses it underhand to backup first baseman Doug Mientkiewicz, who raises it high as Boston celebrates its first World Series championship in 86 years.
Holding the final out in his glove, Boston Red Sox's Doug Mientkiewicz leaps into the air with catcher Jason Veritek and pitcher Keith Foulke's last October. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
Mientkiewicz still hasn't let go of the ball. But now the Red Sox want it back.
Calling the ball, "my retirement fund," Mientkiewicz stored it in a safety deposit box. Red Sox CEO Larry Lucchino said Thursday he's going to ask Mientkiewicz to return it to the team.
"We want it to be part of Red Sox archives or museums so it can be shared with the fans," Lucchino told The Boston Globe. "We would hope he would understand the historical nature of it."
Mientkiewicz seems to understand it very well, which is exactly why he held on to it.
Historic baseballs have recently fetched impressive sums. The baseball Red Sox catcher Carlton Fisk banged off the foul pole in the 1975 World Series sold for $113,373 US. The ball Barry Bonds hit for his 73rd home run went for $450,000. The most expensive baseball of all time is Mark McGwire's 70th homer, which went for $3 million.
Mientkiewicz said he thinks the Boston's World Series ball has more value than a home run ball.
"Those are important and all, don't get me wrong, but there are always going to be more home runs," he said. "This is something that took 86 years and 86 years is a long time. Personally, I went through hell and back this year. But winning the World Series is something I'm going to remember for a long time."
Mientkiewicz came to Boston from Minnesota in a three-team mid-season deal that sent Boston shortstop Nomar Garciaparra to the Chicago Cubs.
Mientkiewicz, who batted .215 for Boston, was used primarily as a late innings defensive replacement and the former all-star has indicated his unhappiness with the role.
Boston broke its championship drought by beating the New York Yankees in seven games in the AL championship series, then sweeping the St. Louis Cardinals in four games in the World Series.
After the game, Mientkiewicz said he put the ball in his locker, then gave it to his wife, Jodi, who put it in her purse. The next day, the ball was authenticated by Major League Baseball.
Carmine Tiso, spokesman for MLB, told the Globe that Mientkiewicz owns the baseball, though Joe Januszewski, Red Sox director of corporate partnerships, said he thinks the team owns it.
Mientkiewicz couldn't be reached for comment Thursday by the Globe after Lucchino said the club wanted the ball back. But on Wednesday, he left no doubt that he believes the ball belongs to him.
"I know this ball has a lot of sentimental value," Mientkiewicz said. "I hope I don't have to use it for the money. It would be cool if we have kids someday to have it stay in our family for a long time. But I can be bought. I'm thinking, there's four years at Florida State for one of my kids. At least."